"I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialist"I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art."(Hippocratic Oath)
"Make something beautiful of your life." — Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone)
Abraham Verghese is a Professor at Stanford Medical School who was born to Indian parents in Ethiopia, but was forced to move to America during a time of political unrest. On a break from medicine, he managed to earn a MFA in Writing from the Iowa Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa.
Cutting for Stone, his first novel, is the epic story of twin brothers whose mother dies in childbirth. Themes are of love, betrayal, the connection between siblings, forgiveness, and loyalty. It says much about the art and science of medicine and surgery. Highly reccommended, but lengthy and heavy reading....more
Marriage is fascinating. If you think PEOPLE are fascinating--their loyalties and betrayals, their ideas about what makes them happy and how they go aMarriage is fascinating. If you think PEOPLE are fascinating--their loyalties and betrayals, their ideas about what makes them happy and how they go about attaining their dream lives--just try putting two people together and see what that dynamic brings. Real life is truly more interesting than fiction.
The Paris Wife is a chronicle of the courtship and first marriage of Ernest Hemingway, told from the viewpoint of his first wife, Hadley. It takes the reader through how they meet, marry, and their lives together in Paris where they hang out in cafes, take trips, and drink with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice Tolkas, Ezra Pound, and others.
We gain a little insight here into Hemingway--he was romantic yet impulsive, extremely dedicated to his art and ambitious, stubborn, tormented, and probably pretty handsome.
This book reminded me of another portrait of a famous marriage that I loved called American Wife. The reader is reminded of roles that people play within a marriage--the givers and the takers. It appears Hemingway was a taker...and the unraveling of real life events will show you what ultimately comes from that. Hemi was also self-destructive...maybe he was immature, maybe he was tormented with an unhappy childhood, or traumatized by the war. But for whatever reason, he was unable to recognize a good thing when he had it.
After reading this book, I became quite taken with the Hemingways. Google their history, and read about the lives of Hemingway's children and grandchildren. At least four members of his family died by suicide. Hadley, on the other hand, free of Hem, was able to find lasting happiness.
This is a great book for summer because it's as captivating as a beach read, but much smarter, and you'll probably find yourself reading a little Hemingway alongside it....more
I liked this book without loving it. It's a sweet story and the writing is very creative, but the stream-of-consciousness narrative left me a litle shI liked this book without loving it. It's a sweet story and the writing is very creative, but the stream-of-consciousness narrative left me a litle shell-shocked. I actually have a lot of questions for some who have finished because I felt a little confused at the end about tying up some loose ends.
Very touching story about a precocious (putting it mildly!) and eccentric nine-year-old boy (and inventor) whose father dies in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. He is the primary narrator, but his grandparent's story is recounted here as well (they survived the bombing of Dresden, Germany in WWII). Apparently there is a star-studded movie either in the works or soon to be released, so if you're curious about the movie, I'd certainly read the book first (as movies never do books justice!). I am interested to read Foer's other acclaimed novel, Everything is Illuminated....more
If you are wondering if you should read "Unbroken", just read it. Even if you don't end up liking it, you just need to read it. Everyone does.
Louis ZaIf you are wondering if you should read "Unbroken", just read it. Even if you don't end up liking it, you just need to read it. Everyone does.
Louis Zamperini was an Italian-American Olympic runner whose plane goes down in World War 2, and he and two other men drift on a raft for a long, long time. I don't want to tell you anything else, because I want you to experience it. This books packs a double punch--the story itself is as amazing as Laura Hillenbrand's genius story-telling.
Books like this inspire us, they shift our perspectives, they enlighten us, and they scare the *bleep* out of us. Louis stretched the human experience to the very depth and breadth of its ability to survive and lived, scratch that, LIVES to tell about it....more
Smart, sophisticated stories that, together, report the rise and fall of an English-speaking newspaper based out of Rome. This is one of those books tSmart, sophisticated stories that, together, report the rise and fall of an English-speaking newspaper based out of Rome. This is one of those books that when you're finished reading, you say to yourself..."Wow. He really pulled that off." And then you consider re-reading it, just to fill in all the holes that you missed. This young author knows people, and his accounts of each character are insightful, yet not without a bite. (consider yourself warned). Very clever story-telling and well worth the reading....more
"In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don't have jobs, so I don"In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don't have jobs, so I don't know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well. In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there's only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.
Also everywhere I'm looking at kids, adults mostly don't seem to like them, not even the parents do. They call the kids gorgeous and so cute, they make the kids do the thing all over again so they can take a photo, but they don't want to actually play with them, they'd rather drink coffee talking to other adults. Sometimes there's a small kid crying and the Ma of it doesn't even hear."
Room is so many more things than you think it is. It's a compelling novel, a bit of an adventure story akin to the classic "The Count of Monte Cristo." It's a lesson is parenting, a commentary on our times (why are we in such a rush? why is our society so over-stimulating? do we spend enough time with our children? why are we grossed out by a five-year-old breastfeeding?) It's a yanked-from-the-headlines horror story, a reflection on how language, and children in general develop, and it forces us to look at the way we do things and ask ourselves: Are we are really doing them because they are the best way, or are we merely swimming upstream, caught up in the current of the way everybody is doing them, and assuming that it is the best way because it is currently the most popular?
How much does society influence us? How is it molding our children? What do our children do for us, and what are we supposed to be doing for them?
If there are a lot of question marks here, it's because Room asks a lot of questions. The way the story was told through a child's eyes and in his own language was effective and difficult to achieve. I have recommended this book to several friends that claim to have read it in one sitting. Also, it's available at Target!
This was like a combination of "A Christmas Story" (you know--the one with the leg lamp) and a book I read in about the third grade called "The WorstThis was like a combination of "A Christmas Story" (you know--the one with the leg lamp) and a book I read in about the third grade called "The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever." It's meant to make you feel nostalgic for a different era, and see how much more quirky and loveable people used to be--like nuns, and people who worked at lunch counters or participated in bake-offs. This didn't work for me, but in it's defense, I can say most holiday pieces don't. I did enjoy the ending--it was sweet, unexpected, and packed a message. It wasn't terrible, I just couldn't love it....more
I came into this book after hearing a good bit of hype. This is a non-fiction account or study of the use of cadavers in modern science (hence the namI came into this book after hearing a good bit of hype. This is a non-fiction account or study of the use of cadavers in modern science (hence the name "stiff" which refers to our main characters). The author talks about how cadavers have helped us make seatbelts better, solve crimes, and some other things I've already forgotten. I think the concept was more interesting than the execution. The main things I liked were that it was non-fiction which is a departure for me, and the lengths that the author went to get her information were quite exhaustive.
The study of forensics seems to be in vogue now, with TV shows like Dexter and some of those crime shows that I don't watch (CSI, perhaps?), so this is a trendy read right now. I think you'll know after the first chapter whether or not it's for you....more
Salem's Lots was written in 1975 when I was 2 years old. My entire life this book has been on my radar. I knew it existed...I knew it was by Stephen KSalem's Lots was written in 1975 when I was 2 years old. My entire life this book has been on my radar. I knew it existed...I knew it was by Stephen King...I knew there was a movie version. But I never knew exactly WHAT this book was about. Due to the title, I always thought it was about witches.
Every Halloween I read a scary book, so this year I decided to finally pick up Salem's Lot, as it makes many of the "scariest book" lists. So after 35 years of wondering, I came to know that the title, 'Salem's Lot, is short for the name of the town in which the story takes place, "Jerusalem's Lot." And also--witch count zero.
The author's note at the beginning is very interesting (I love S. King as a non-fiction writer), where we learn that King wanted to write a vampire novel that was part Dracula, part pulpy comic-book vampire inspired, and that his wife suggested that the setting be America, more specifically small town Maine. Because something to do with Dracula coming to New York City and getting immediately hit by a cab...moving on.
King also calls "Salem's Lot" part Peyton Place, and while that IS ahead of my time, I think he is referring to the interlocking and overlapping and names and faces that occur in this small town. The bulk of this story is about the people of Salem's Lot, and in that way, this novel is in some ways a commentary on small town life in Maine, and in some ways a love story to little hamlet communities.
There is a little bit about the vampires, although, I regretfully have to add...not much new. All vampire lore is represented here: the garlic, the stakes through the heart, the Holy Water. In true S. King fashion, the author pushes the envelope having certain victims as well as heroes be children. Also true to form he has characters take unexpected turns (main characters die, or leave town unexpectedly). So I can't really criticize that it's predictable. I can, however, say by the time I had gotten through the details of each town member and their demise (or I guess one could argue--"un-demise"), I was quite ready for some resolution.
One thing that I think King does really well is mix his fantasy horror in with real-life horror. For example, when Callahan sees the face of the vampire for the first time, it is THE SAME face as the boogy man who used to hide in his closet when he was a child. King blends childhood fears with grown-up fears, and shows us that most of the dark stuff we live with each day is just as horrific as anything that could be imagined in a horror novel (remember Danny Torrence's alcoholic father from The Shining?). Life, we see, is not only stranger, but more gut-wrenching than fiction.
I can't say that this was super suspensful-scary. Creepy, gory maybe. There were a few stomach-turning bits with some blood sucking and animal/people cruelty. Not as memorable to me as King's "Carrie" or "The Shining", and not as original as my new favorite vampire novel, "I am Legend." But if you're a super-fan of the genre or the writer, I'd definetely say it's worth checking out.
**spoiler alert** BIG GIANT MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS AHEAD!!
I finally got around to finishing up this highly recommended series. One might ask what separat**spoiler alert** BIG GIANT MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS AHEAD!!
I finally got around to finishing up this highly recommended series. One might ask what separates this YA trilogy from any other dystopian love triangle available out there (surely there are more?), and I would list: the grit without the gore; the author's ability to simultaneoulsy offer a spot-on word picture of what's wrong with BIG government AND a reality TV culture; the compelling teenage love story; and my favorite...the unpredictability of the story line or more simply put...the "surprises".
Anyone who's read the first two books was likely, like me, wondering how this book would flow. How can you create a rebellion and overthrow an entire government in a neat and tidy 390 pages and the answer is this...SPOILER AHEAD. The author centers the story more around Katniss's desire to snuff out Snow, and she allows the rebellion to happen in the background in sort of a streamlined series of events. You might feel let down if you were banking on hand to hand combat or a victory won over a series of battles. Or you might be relieved you didn't have to sift through all of that tediousness in order to come to a satisfying resolution.
Alot of readers are complaining about the death of several main characters here, and I have to say in the author's defense: she is writing about war and I think her aim was to realistically portray the brutality behind war rather than the glamour. I think while being relatively violent, these books are meant to convey an anti-violence and an anti-war message. The characters in these books are pawns of the governement, and one of the main themes here is the empowerment of an honest, brave, and selfless group of people that ONLY has the needs and the safety of the people as their driving force. Imagine that!
The genius of Mockingjay is how Collins handles the ending. In a true Orwellian twist, she actually has the Rebels win and the the new "empire" begins to look and feel a lot like the Capitol (remember the farmers and the pigs from Animal Farm?) They're even thinking of having another Hunger Games!! But just when you think she's about to leave us with an ending that would be very true to life, but would actually kind of stink for all the fans...she shoots her way out into a more triumphant closure that allows Katniss to rise above even the most selfish and predictable of human nature. And we've all got chills. Good stuff....more
Despite the advertisements of unrelenting suspense on the cover, the first 100 pages of this novel didn't keep me suspended at all. More like bored, iDespite the advertisements of unrelenting suspense on the cover, the first 100 pages of this novel didn't keep me suspended at all. More like bored, impatient, and un-interested. It may get better, but unfortunately life, and October, are too short for me to stick around and find out. :(...more
"They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Thin"They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end."
I really loved The Namesake. I go back and forth between giving it four and five stars. To me, it was beautifully written, and in a word, "flawless."
I love books about families. They feel so real. And this story about an Indian couple that comes to America so that the husband can finish school at MIT in Boston was suprisingly compelling to me. I attribute all the page-turning to the author's style--the third person narrative, the way she understands how people behave in families, and outside of families as they make their way through life. She's ridiculously wise and knowing in her story-telling, and she's not afraid to write about life as it really is.
Loved this story, cared about these characters, crazy about this writer. ...more
In this installment of Grafton's Alphabet series, P.I. Kinsey Milhone is faced with two dilemmas.
First, she has taken on the case of a woman who's motIn this installment of Grafton's Alphabet series, P.I. Kinsey Milhone is faced with two dilemmas.
First, she has taken on the case of a woman who's mother has gone missing from her trailer in the Mohave Desert. Kinsey is sent to the desert to find her and bring her back. The elderly woman in her dementia gives Kinsey clues that help unravel some age old family mysteries.
Also, Kinsey learns that there is a price on her head. A criminal that she helped put behind bars is now trying to have her killed. Kinsey hires a hard-nosed bodyguard to protect her, and a kinship is sparked.
Compared to the others in this series, this was a bit low on action. There were more interactions with characters inside Kinsey's circle--particularly her match-making friend Vera. A lot of old friends are here as well, including Rosie, Henry, the VW (maybe its last appearance?), and the one decent dress Kinsey owns.
Fans of the series will appreciate this one as well....more
**spoiler alert** I had no idea what to expect from The Hunger Games (I like it that way), but I was taken in right away with this story and enjoyed e**spoiler alert** I had no idea what to expect from The Hunger Games (I like it that way), but I was taken in right away with this story and enjoyed every surprise along the way. Do not discount this book because it is YA. Suzanne Collins is a talented writer and a creative genius in the way that she spun her story to illustrate many of the reasons our world, in 2010, is super messed up.
First, and most obviously, she touches on what happens when Governments try to control and squash their citizen's rights. Government has gotten the upper hand in this tale, and they are corrupt and nasty and don't give a darn about their people. The rich and powerful live in excess...everyone else goes hungry and barely survives. It is a cautionary tale about when power falls into the wrong hands. The quality of a human existence, their personal independence and their control over their own destinies and ability to create their own happiness is naught.
She shows us a society that is desensitized to violence and human suffering. The massess tune into their TV's to watch their fellow citizens be hunted, starved, and tortured to the death. The Games they relish in are not a far cry from the emotional humiliation we currently witness nightly via reality TV, or our children are exposed to via violent cartoons and video games. A society that has become de-civilized enough to relish in the embarassment or physical abuse of others is hauntingly familiar and, as illustrated here by Collins, pretty disgusting.
In the Hunger Games, it is impossible to know what is real or feined in regard to love and loyalty. Human desperation has come to a point that individuals will do anything for an edge up--for an extra meal for themselves or their families, physical security, any advantage--and it's hard to know if real true love and friendship can actually exist in such a desperate wasteland. It's also difficult to know what is real or facade, as game-players live their lives behind the camera (much like celebrities stalked by the paparazzi) and their every move is tracked and analyzed.
The Hunger Games is one compelling read. It's surprising in its themes and narrative, and it illustrates the lives we now lead or could be led toward at any time. It gives us a kick-a heroine in Katniss, a young woman who is willing to spit in the face of the establishment and hang on to real love and emotion with a dying, desperate will. Will be reading the next one asap....more